While nobody plans to become addicted or dependent on a substance for mental or physical relief, addiction still remains a life-threatening disease. Physical wounds tend to heal faster, but emotional scars of our life affect us the most. Events like trauma, work-related stress, rape, bullying, physical or mental abuse, domestic violence, witnessing violence, near death experiences leave us struggling to cope up.

In order to cope up with such mentally stressful events, people resolve to substance abuse or addiction. It can be drugs, alcohol, food, chocolate or even an activity such as gambling, working too much. People often use the word addiction casually referring to someone or themselves as coffee addicts, shopaholic or workaholic, but addiction is much deeper than that.

What is Addiction?

Clinically speaking, addiction is a brain disease in which a person involves themselves in the use of a substance or in a behavior that is rewarding in such a way that they want to repeatedly pursue it without giving up. Despite its detrimental consequences, it makes them feel better or feel good. Addiction activates the brain’s pathway of reward or reinforcement by stimulating the pleasure factor.

As a result, the feeling of craving happens in our brain when the person picks up an environmental cue like smelling the beer, seeing the corner where the dealer can be found. Since addiction affects the brain’s functions, the patient may not even be aware that their behavior is causing trouble for themselves and others.

Understanding Addiction – How the brain gets affected 

One of the most complex organs of our body – the brain is affected by addiction in the following three critical areas:

  1. Brain Stem – Basic bodily functions like eating, sleeping, heart rate etc. It links the brain with the spinal chord that runs down the back of our body enabling us to undertake important activities
  2. Limbic System – It is a bunch of brain structures that stimulate emotional responses like feeling pleasure when eating chocolate or drinking alcohol
  3. Cerebral Cortex – It is our central thinking and decision-making capacitor that helps us to process information, plan and solve problems

Understanding Addiction: The Role of Neurotransmitters

The neurons in our brain communicate with other neurons throughout the body by sending electrical impulses or signals. The substance of abuse interfere with the brains processing and produce excessive amounts of neurotransmitter. This alters our mood leading to greater pleasure than normal.

  • Dopamine – Surges in this neurotransmitter produce euphoric feelings with a strong sense of reinforcement. It triggers cravings to perform a certain behavior
  • Glutamate – A neurotransmitter that is key to the learning process of our memory interacts with dopamine to trigger the reward-related learning circuit of the brain. Addictive substances and behavior activate and overload this circuit enabling us to seek out the source of pleasure

The Road to Recovery

In order to get out of addiction, it is not just enough to say no, instead, say yes to other things that are more rewarding. A holistic approach towards the treatment of addiction is the most recommended path to recovery. One important step is to understand what you get from the substance or activity of addiction and how you can accomplish the same benefit through other unharmful means.

Since addiction is more of a mental disease, the road to recovery lies in your hands. First, try to accept your problem and seek medical attention to make simple lifestyle changes. Natural means of recovery like exercise, yoga, diet control, and natural supplements will work wonders to help get out of addiction.

In fact, naturopathic healing practices offer great outcomes when it comes to addiction treatments. Since addiction recovery at its core is more about developing a healthier life with greater rewards, naturopathy and addiction treatment go hand in hand. Naturopathy healing will help patients cultivate healthy habits for an addiction-free life without going back to relapse mode.

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